Legislature(1999 - 2000)
02/24/2000 04:40 PM MLV
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 331 - ALASKA NATL GUARD/NAVAL & STATE MILITIA CHAIRMAN MURKOWSKI announced the next order of business as HB 331, "An Act relating to payment, allowances, and benefits of members of the Alaska National Guard and Alaska Naval Militia in active service; relating to computation of certain benefits for members of the Alaska State Militia; and providing for an effective date." Number 0646 CAROL CARROLL, Director, Central Office, Administrative Services Division, Department of Military & Veterans Affairs, came before the committee to present HB 331. The purpose of the bill is to streamline administrative processes for the department when individuals of the Alaska National Guard and Alaska Naval Militia are called to active service for the state. The bill would change the current method of calculating pay and allowances to a simple rate of 200 percent of the minimum daily basic pay [Section 1]. MS. CARROLL further explained Section 2, of the bill, would change the current method of calculating workers' compensation [benefits] to the same simple rate of 200 percent of the minimum daily basic pay. MS. CARROLL further explained Section 3, of the bill, is complex; it is based on HB 332, which deals with members of the Alaska State Defense Force/Alaska State Militia. MS. CARROLL distributed to the committee members a handout entitled, "Calculation of State Active Duty," which illustrates the current steps and proposed steps in calculating daily base pay and allowances. She pointed out that one staff person for the department calculates the figures manually - Rick Turcic. He is online to answer any technical questions. The current method calculates allowances separately, while the proposed method takes an individual's base pay and multiplies that figure by 200 percent, thereby cutting administrative overhead and burden. She indicated that the change really doesn't impact pay, even though some would be paid more and some would be paid less. It would depend on an individual's years of service. Number 0934 REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT asked Ms. Carroll, How much less and how much more would a member's pay be affected? MS. CARROLL replied a general, for example, would get $365 a day under the bill compared to $337. She pointed out that most generals are not called to active service, however. She further cited a technical or staff sergeant would get a minimum of $101 a day under the bill. CRAIG CHRISTENSEN, Colonel, Deputy STARC Commander, Alaska Army National Guard, Department of Military & Veterans Affairs, testified via teleconference from Anchorage. He interjected and stated most colonels have over 20 years of service; most lieutenant colonels have over 16 years of service; and most majors have over 12 years of service. He further noted the following estimated base pay changes under the bill: Colonel - $3 less per day; Lieutenant Colonel - $36 less per day; Major - $25 less per day; Captain - $18 less per day; First Lieutenant - "a wash"; Second Lieutenant - $23 more per day; Warrant Officer - $20 to $25 less per day, depending on an individual's range; W2 - "a wash"; Junior W1 - $11 more per day; First Sergeants - $11 more per day; Master Sergeants - $20 less per day; Below E8 - state minimum per day of $105. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT said he doesn't mind the "guys at the top" getting less. He doesn't want the "guys at the bottom" to be affected; they are the ones who need it the most. CAROL CARROLL pointed out that her comment earlier meant the proposed changes wouldn't cost the state because they would average out, but there may be some individual differences. COLONEL CHRISTENSEN echoed the earlier comments of Ms. Carroll in that the administrative burden doesn't seem to make sense when parity can be reached in a more efficient and streamlined manner. He asked that the committee members support the bill. It would help the Alaska National Guard and state provide immediate pay transactions and minimize any errors. Number 1204 CHAIRMAN MURKOWSKI asked Colonel Christensen how other states calculate these benefits. COLONEL CHRISTENSEN replied it varies [from state-to-state]. Some states do a manual calculation like Alaska, while a number of states, especially the western states, have changed their procedures to what the bill proposes. Number 1260 RICK TURCIC, Administrative Officer, Fort Richardson Office, Administrative Services Division, Department of Military & Veterans Affairs, testified via teleconference from Anchorage. The current procedure is extremely work intensive, especially in the case of a disaster. He explained that calculating daily base pay requires 345 separate calculations because of pay grades and pay raises. In addition, calculating allowances forces him to utilize the Department of Defense's Web Site in order to get current figures; they change periodically. He also has to factor marital status and number of dependents, which all affect what figure to use. The proposed system, therefore, would save the department a lot of work and would minimize the possibility of any errors. Ed KNOEBEL testified via teleconference from Glennallen. He suggested including language to indicate whichever calculation is higher, but he's not so sure that would work. CHAIRMAN MURKOWSKI closed the meeting to public testimony. CHAIRMAN MURKOWSKI announced that the bill would be held over in order to incorporate provisions from HB 332.